Inside a Learning Community: The First Week of School

Ideas for Use:
Preservice Education

Initial greeting of students, building relationships and interpersonal knowledge, and class meetings to set norms and learning goals are all presented in this collection. My teacher education students begin reading Learning to Trust at the same time. All student teachers want am authentic glance into how a teacher begins to build a classroom community—from day one, Laura and her students meet that need well.

Comment from Lana Daly, faculty member in the multiple subjects teacher credential program at the California State University, Sacramento (CSUS).

 Collegial Study and Inservice Education

I have shown this video with both my whole staff at the beginning of the year and in smaller groups in continuing education classes. The video is a wonderful demonstration of how to guide students in the collaborative creation of their own rules, thereby helping to meet students’ needs for autonomy as well as belonging. Teachers often comment that after following this model for rule setting, students have more buy in to classroom rules and feel more competent in following those rules.

Comment from Marie-Claire Wonacott, teacher, Lot Whitcomb Elementary School, Milwaukie, Oregon.

Additional details:
There are 9 separate segments beginning with the students entering the class for the first time and ending with a class meeting reflecting on their week. There is a part time aide in this class who appears in some of the videos.

  • The Very Beginning: “It’s a Pleasure to Meet ‘Ya”—greeting the students and introducing them to one another
  •  Getting to Know One Another: “Tell Me About a Birthday You’ll Never Forget”—students interview one another about a birthday they will never forget
  •  Class Meeting: “How We Use the Restroom”—a class meeting in which the teacher guides the students in a discussion of how to responsibly go to the restroom on their own (The common practice at this school was for each teacher to escort the entire class to the hall and the whole class would wait as each student used the restroom one by one.)
  •  Getting to Know One Another: “Would You Rather Dance or Sing?”—a group community building activity in which students group and regroup themselves depending on their choices
  •  Class Meeting: “What We Want to Learn”—a class meeting in which the students list things they are hoping to learn
  •  Getting to Know One Another: “Who Has Sisters, Who Has Brothers”—The class creates a Venn diagram showing how many in the class have sisters, brothers, and sisters and brothers
  •  Read-A-Loud and Discussion: “Why Did Nate and Miss Maggie Become Friends?”—after listening to the book Miss Maggie, the teacher leads the students in a discussion about friendship.
  •  Getting to Know One Another: “What Are You Good At”—partners interview one another about things they are good at.
  •  Class Meeting: “Reflecting on Our Week”—a class meeting in which the students recall and reflect on the things they did and learned during the week.

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